The Cheapest Countries for Expats

The Cheapest Countries for Expats

Nowadays, many people contemplate moving to another country to live and work there. One of the key factors when choosing a new place to reside is affordability. Additionally, comfortable living conditions are essential to consider. Fortunately, there are numerous places around the world that fulfil both these criteria and offer significantly lower real estate prices compared to the USA or the UK. Read on to discover the best and most affordable cities for expats to live in.

About the Rating

We compiled our rating by analysing numerous reviews from expats who are already living in these countries. Our primary focus was on rent, food, and entertainment expenses, while excluding the cost of flying to the destination, obtaining a residence permit, and receiving medical care.

All prices are provided in US dollars to facilitate the comparison of the cheapest expat countries. The US dollar is a widely accepted and convertible currency in all the countries mentioned in our top list. Please note that the cost of living figures provided are approximate and intended for illustrative purposes.


The minimum cost of living is $500 per month.

Bolivia might be a small country, but it attracts lots of tourists and expats. Firstly, Bolivian culture and traditions are quite special. In fact, the majority of locals still follow the customs of their ancestors, the indigenous people of the Andes. You can notice their cultural heritage almost everywhere: in local cuisine, architecture and clothes.

Photo: Azzedine Rouichi (Unsplash)

At the same time, Bolivia is a fairly developed country with modern high-rise buildings shaping the skyline of Bolivian metropolises. Additionally, the local transport and healthcare systems are at a high level, and the government places great emphasis on the latter. For example, some citizens of nearby countries cross the border to get medical care and buy medicine in Bolivia, as it's 15 to 30% cheaper there. 

Everyday expenses aren't enormous either. Renting a flat close to the city centre will cost you around $200-$300 a month. A simple lunch for two people in one of the cafes is no more than $2-3. If you decide to dine out in a good restaurant and enjoy some good wine, be ready to spend around $25 to $30. The same amount of money is sufficient for weekly grocery shopping at a market.


The cost of living is $800 to $1,000 per month.

Ecuador is the best place for water sports fans, as it offers ample opportunities for surfers and divers to connect with fellow enthusiasts. Moreover, Ecuador boasts cultural diversity and the unique beauty of the flora and fauna on the Galapagos Islands, making it an attractive destination for travellers.

Photo: Kiyoshi (Unsplash)

Rental prices in Ecuador depend on the area and type of property. For instance, renting a nice flat for a night may cost about $30-35, while simpler accommodations can be found for around $15 a day. The local cuisine offers a great variety of dishes, influenced by different colonisers and their traditions. On average, a lunch in a cheap restaurant will cost around five to seven dollars.

You can also save money on entertainment in Ecuador. For instance, the cheapest tours can cost as little as $15 per person. Additionally, some activities are entirely free, like sunbathing at the beach.


The maximum cost of living is $1,000 per month.

Vietnam impresses with its fascinating landscapes, incredible culture, and surprisingly good living conditions at a low price. The country seamlessly blends agriculture with modern skyscrapers and shopping centres. However, 80% of Vietnamese people live in rural areas, far from the cities, and are involved in farming for their livelihoods.

Photo: Tron Le (Unsplash)

Locals consider living in big cities like Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi to be quite expensive, but expats can easily afford it. A 1-bedroom high-end flat will cost you about $300-$400 dollars a month, while a lunch for two with drinks included can cost up to $15. The price for telecommunication services starts at $11 a month, which includes mobile service, internet, and cable TV. 

Even if you rent a luxury furnished flat, take a taxi, and dine at restaurants every day, you'll hardly spend more than $1,000 dollars a month in Vietnam. Moreover, this amount will be sufficient to cover the expenses of two people living comfortably. Therefore, Vietnam is one of the cheapest places for expats on a shoestring budget.


The maximum cost of living is $1,000 per month.

Nepal is a perfect place if you love long walks, fresh mountain air, and solitude. Despite being a relatively small country, Nepal makes the most of its unique location, surrounded by the world's highest mountain range, the fantastic Himalayas. Tourists who come here can choose from a wide range of tours, including a long hike to the base camp on Mount Everest.

Photo: Kaushal Subedi (Unsplash)

Despite being an attractive tourism spot, Nepal is one of the cheapest countries in the world. The biggest categories of expenses here are rent and entertainment. Local cuisine is quite extraordinary, but very affordable. Usually, people spend only about a dollar a day on it. In general, $1,000 a month is enough for a comfortable life in Nepal. 

Potential expats should be aware that locals usually name a higher price for anything at first, from accommodation to souvenirs. Don't be shy to haggle with them. It's nothing but part of Nepali traditions. If you agree to the first price you hear, your monthly expenses will increase significantly.


The cost of living is about $1,000-1,200 per month.

Peru is famous for its stunning landscapes, amazing culture, and cuisine. However, Peru isn't only good for tourism but also for living. Housing is pretty affordable here. A cheap flat costs about $20 a day, and a luxury one starts from $40. Cheaper options can be found in remote areas.

Photo: Creators (Unsplash)

Exquisite and diverse cuisine is one of the greatest tourist attractions in Peru. However, it isn't cheap. Especially if you go to a restaurant in such touristy spots like Cusco and Lima. Locals prefer to buy groceries at the markets and cook at home. So, you might want to follow their example if you want to save some money.


The cost of living is $1,200-1,300 per month.

Spectacular beaches, incredible culture and welcoming locals are only a small part of Mexico's outstanding features. Many love Mexico for amazing cuisine and peculiar traditions. The Day of the Dead is one of the key local holidays that attracts tourists from all over the world. Many anticipate this event for a whole year and start preparing for it in advance. As a result, the Day of the Dead really gives everyone an unforgettable experience.

Photo: Arturo Ruiz (Unsplash)

Although Mexico is in North America, the cost of living here is much lower than in Canada or the USA. However, the prices vary greatly across the country. For instance, living in tourist spots like Puerto Vallarta or Riviera Maya is much more expensive than living in areas far from the beaches. The price gap is especially great when it comes to renting a place to live, buying food and shopping.

In a way, a favourable exchange rate of the USD to Mexican peso is the reason why life here seems cheap for the expats. They can afford to lead their ordinary lifestyle and sometimes travel inside Mexico. It won't cost them an arm and a leg as there's accommodation available at $20 per night. The minimum cost for eating local cuisine and visiting entertainment facilities is $5 and $12 a day, respectively.

If you plan to move to Mexico, remember that most taxi drivers overprice their service greatly. To avoid paying a fortune, we recommend using public transport. It's better to go on a long-haul trip by ADO bus. ADO is a transport system that unites almost every city in the country. The ticket for an ADO bus costs about $5 and guarantees you a nice ride as all ADO buses have comfortable seats and air conditioning.


The cost of living is $1,200-1,300 per month.

Bulgaria stands out from other European countries because living in this land of beautiful sandy beaches and mountains is really cheap. The cost of living in Sofia is 65% lower than in London. The same can be said about life in the cities by the coast of the Black Sea - Bansko, Borovets and Pamporovo. Of course, you can find even cheaper options in inland towns.

Photo: Anton Atanasov (Unsplash)

Bulgaria is a sunny country, so fresh fruit and vegetables are available all year round and cost dirt cheap. Rent expenses depend on the area you live in. A nice flat in the centre of a big city costs $500-600 a month. Transportation costs may vary due to the level of quality you prefer. The cheapest way to move around Bulgaria is by public buses, but they're often overcrowded. A shared taxi is a more comfortable option, though it might be a bit more expensive.

The Philippines

The cost of living is $1,300-1500. 

The Philippines is an incredible country of 7,000 islands. People of various nationalities and ethnic groups live here. Most of them can speak English. The Philippines offers impeccably clean beaches, impressive festivals and a great diverse cuisine to its guests. Moreover, water sport fans will like it here as the locals are quite into surfing and sailing.

Photo: Louie Martinez (Unsplash)

The cost of living in the Philippines is 65% cheaper than in the USA. Thirty to forty dollars a day is quite enough to live in comfort. The sum includes $20 a day on accommodation, up to $5 on and $5-10 on entertainment. By the way, Filipino cuisine is mostly seafood, vegetables and fruit, so expats leading a healthy lifestyle will definitely love it here. 

However, getting around the country will cost you a fortune. Booking flights in advance should save you money.


The minimum cost of living is $1,500 per month.

Despite being a small country, Cambodia shows impressive figures in terms of economic development. Phnom Penh, the country's capital, used to be a small provincial town just 50-70 years ago. Today, it's a modern metropolis with many skyscrapers, restaurants and malls.

Photo: Roth Chanvirak (Unsplash)

The prices vary greatly. You can rent cheap accommodation on the outskirts of Phnom Penh for $300 a month, while a high-end flat in the city centre will cost you $1,200. At any rate, you'll find lots of stalls, shops, pharmacies, restaurants and other amenities nearby.

Cambodia used to be a French colony, so there are many things that resemble France. For instance, you can visit one of the art galleries in big cities, have a look at some landmark buildings and walk down long alleys. Cambodia will definitely impress and excite you if you're a romantic person.

Sri Lanka

The minimum cost of living is $1,500.

Sri Lanka has become a very popular destination among expats in the past few years. This can be explained not only by Sri Lanka's amazing nature, but also by its rapidly growing economy. The island boasts azure beaches, one-of-a-kind sunsets and fascinating culture. The expats will appreciate high-speed internet connections in all coastal areas.

Photo: Shashank Hudkar (Unsplash)

In fact, IT specialists and people working in hospitality, education and science are at a great demand in Sri Lanka. Prices in Sri Lanka are about 65% lower than in more developed countries. For instance, renting a nice flat in Colombo, the country's unofficial capital city, costs about $800-1,000. Eating out in a luxury restaurant will cost you $30-50. Of course, buying groceries at the local market would be much cheaper. The Pettah Market (meaning the Black Town Market) covers a very large territory in Colombo. 

If you're going to Sri Lanka, take cash. Although it's a fairly modern country, most local shops don't accept credit cards. Even if you see a bank terminal, the assistant will ask you to pay in cash.


The minimum cost of living is $1,500 per month.

If you're a wildlife enthusiast, Colombia is the right place for you. It has amazing beaches, lofty mountains and jungles. Moreover, the locals are incredibly welcoming and friendly towards foreigners. Colombians often invite people to dinner parties, where they serve dishes cooked by family recipes. The cuisine is quite diverse and mixes the ingredients in an unusual way.

Photo: Saul Mercado (Unsplash)

The cost of living in Colombia is about 35-45% lower than in the USA. You can rent a small house for $350-500 a month. Houses closer to the coast will cost a bit more, the prices start at $600. Grabbing a lunch and a drink in a cheap restaurant will cost you no more than $15. However, transportation isn't that cheap in Colombia. The only way to minimise these expenses is to haggle the rate down with drivers or tour guides.

In a Nutshell

As you can see from our rating, there are many places in the world where you can live in comfort on a shoestring budget. When you consider moving to another country, start with your preferences and available budget. However, don't forget about such things as local laws, bank policies and the dollar exchange rate.

Cover photo: Dayan Quinteros (Unsplash)

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